Two games left and enough scenarios to bewilder anyone.
So how are the Wolves handling the pressure of going down the wire to secure a playoff spot in the NBA’s Western Conference?
Coach Tom Thibodeau was asked after today’s morning shootaround how the team – the young players in particular – are handling the pressure.
“Great,’’ he said. “This is what it’s all about – the intensity of the games, the concentration that’s necessary. That’s why everything does matter. A mental mistake could be the difference between winning and losing. That’s why the concentration is so important. It’s a positive. It’s a good experience for our guys. And we have work to do.’’
But the question is, how much attention to the players pay to the playoff race in general? Do they watch the results, check the standings regularly, become conversant in every possible playoff scenario?
It could be a generational thing.
Jeff Teague doesn’t pay any attention to that. At all. “Nah,’’ he said. “I don’t even pay attention. I don’t read any newspapers, I don’t watch ESPN. I just watched Wrestlemania last night.’’
All seven hours? “I watched it all,’’ he said. “Pretty decent.’’
But Andrew Wiggins takes another tack.
With the Western Conference playoff picture changing all the time, Wiggins watches.
“It is pretty crazy,’’ Wiggins said. “But we think about every possibility. We think about everything, because everything matters.’’
Here are some other items from today’s shootaround:
--The Grizzlies are even more beat up than they were when they came here and won two weeks ago. Mike Conley, Tyreke Evans, JaMychal Green, Andrew Harrison, Jarell Martin, Chandler Parsons and Wayne Selden are all out. Parsons and Selden played two weeks ago, with Selden scoring 23 points, 14 in the fourth quarter as Memphis broke a 17-game road losing streak.
It will be interesting to see how much – if at all – center Marc Gasol will play tonight. He was originally scheduled to rest Sunday, but played in the Grizzlies home finale, a victory over Detroit.
--Meanwhile, a Marshon Brooks has become a nice little story for the Grizzlies. Drafted late in the first round of the 2011 draft by Boston, he was traded to New Jersey. He played sparingly in three seasons for a total of five teams. After that he played overseas, including a few seasons with the Jiangsu Dragons of the Chinese Basketball Association.
Brooks was signed to a 10-day contract by the Grizzlies March 27. He scored 20 or more points in every game, scoring 118 in his first five, the best start in franchise history. On April 6 he earned a multi-year contract from the Grizzlies.
“It’s a testament to him,’’ Thibodeau said. “He’s obviously gotten a lot better. And you see that all the time, guys go to the G League, they go overseas, and they come back from all the games they’ve played in and they’ve improved a lot.’’
Thibodeau said that’s a big reason the Wolves saw the value of getting their own G League team, the Iowa Wolves.
“You see things like that,’’ he said. “A guy’s going to be a lot better at 29 than he was as 22. He’s played great for them.’’